Client: Federal government agency
Activity: Content design
Project: Website improvement project
Content design helped Weave and our client identify and create a completely new content type, long-form guides, to solve persistent user challenges.
A government agency which is often in the media spotlight because of its complex policy portfolio, our client needs to communicate about science and policy that has a real impact on communities, businesses and the environment.
The agency’s policies and operations are enormously complex. Our user research identified many different audiences who were trying to make sense of the agency’s work. Many people knew a little, but very few people knew everything.
Previously, content on the site wasn’t targeted at identified audiences. Some pages tried to cater to both highly knowledgeable users and newcomers to a topic, mixing introductory content with highly technical information. New audiences found the content hard to understand, while those with a higher level of understanding dismissed it as too simple. Internal concepts and jargon that were unfamiliar to the average user also got in the way of understanding.
We also had to take into account the many misconceptions about the agency’s role, and the need to educate audiences about the reasons for some of the controversial decisions it has made.
What we did
Content design reminds us to think about new ways to solve users’ problems.
We needed to solve the problem that users didn’t always understand broad subject areas that covered interconnected topics. These areas included technical information relating to emerging science.
As we understood more about user journeys and tasks for the website, we saw the need for content that could help people begin to understand the many different aspects of the agency’s role.
Our approach was to develop three long-form guides that gave users overviews of these complex, interconnected topics.
We had the content design expertise, but knew we needed to work closely with stakeholders to make sure that we could blend their deep topical understanding with our best practice.
Using the results of our user-research, we workshopped the user need and job story for each guide with subject matter experts. Then we carefully structured the content to meet that need.
As we gained a better understanding of the way topics connected and the science behind them, we were able to create content using plain language.
Following content design principles, the three guides clearly set out some of the most poorly understood concepts.
We used our content design experience to create in-depth starter guides to key topics that:
- give users a foundational understanding of some of the most important concepts
- combat misconceptions about the agency’s operations and role by surfacing and addressing them directly
- help the agency communicate more transparently with its audience.
What happened next
- The guides were supported by a lean content program that allowed us to move nearly 120 pages into a new site architecture to improve the way people find and access content.
- We also used content design to rewrite and restructure a number of pages on complex topics using plain language, so they could be more easily understood by people who were not experts.
Using deep insight and a lean, targeted content program we helped our client create a new website architecture that met user needs without rewriting and redeveloping their entire website. This is how:
- User research
- Content design